Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rights.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton Highlands—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Referendum Campaign October 23rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, one of the key arguments used by the separatist spokespersons in justifying their plan to separate Quebec is the issue of protection and survival of the French language.

It is claimed that French is in danger in Quebec and the only way to ensure its future is to break Canada apart this coming October 30.

How can the separatists make such an exaggeration concerning the French language, when they are preparing in their project of separation to condemn more than a million francophones outside Quebec to isolation?

In Canada, the French language knows no borders, no colour, no race. This coming October 30, Quebecers will say no to the abandonment of their millions of francophone neighbours, and a strong Quebec will remain within a Canada which, too, will be strong and united.

Referendum Campaign October 19th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister of Canada was in Quebec, in his own province, to deliver a very important message

to Quebecers. The Prime Minister is intent on refuting the myth dreamt up by the separatists that the rest of Canada would form a monolithic block. Not so.

No one can predict how the other Canadian provinces will react the day after a vote in favour of Quebec separation, let alone claim that they will form a single block and ask the federal government to negotiate with a separated Quebec. The Prime Minister has clearly shown that the partnership plan of the separatists is just a scam to camouflage their plans for separation. The people of Quebec know that, and on October 30, they will vote no.

Interparliamentary Delegations October 18th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association on the fourth annual meeting of the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, held in Ottawa from July 4 to July 8, 1995.

Employment October 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Many Canadians are worried about the economy stagnating in recent months. We have even heard some members of the official opposition talking about no net job creation since January.

Would the minister once again set the record straight on Canada's employment situation?

Canada Post Corporation October 5th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year I toured the head offices of Canada Post Corporation here in Ottawa.

I found Canada Post to be a thoroughly modern distribution organization, the equal of any in the world. Its track and trace system for managing mail flow is said to be state of the art and Canada Post is selling the technology worldwide.

Ensuring timely and cost effective mail delivery to all Canadians is no small challenge. Doing so in the midst of a revolution in communications and at a profit is the challenge that Canada Post faces.

For a time, closing rural post offices was seen as a way for Canada Post to meet this challenge, but this avenue was closed with the decision by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to impose a moratorium on the closure of small rural post offices. That decision has proven to be enlightened. It has refocused the energies of Canada Post and allowed the corporation to discover that its more than 19,000 outlets are not liabilities but important assets. Now it is time to broaden the range of services which Canada Post provides, especially to rural Canadians.

As other countries have discovered, the possibilities are endless and endlessly exciting.

Oceans Act September 28th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the oceans act and, in so doing, to pay tribute to its author, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. In the short time he has occupied that post he has shown exemplary leadership by leading our country through one of the worst crisis in the Atlantic fishery and turning that difficult situation on the Atlantic coast, and as well in other respects on the Pacific coast, into an opportunity for Canada to assert its pride as a nation internationally and its sense of leadership on behalf of the world's oceans.

The oceans act which was tabled on Tuesday and which the minister addressed on Tuesday is, as he has pointed out, legislation that constitutes one element, but a major element, in the overall strategy of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to intensify its effort toward the oceans and will be complemented by a number of other policies and activities in the months ahead.

The objectives of the oceans act are to recognize in domestic law Canada's jurisdiction over its ocean areas and their resources, to provide the legislative framework for a new oceans management regime and to regroup key federal ocean related statutes under the oceans act.

The legislation consists of three parts, each of which contains the regulatory enforcement and operational authorities required for its implementation.

Part I is Canada's maritime zones. This part defines Canada's maritime zones by incorporating provisions of the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act. It declares Canada's rights and jurisdiction over the contiguous zone and the exclusive economic zone and it defines the minimum limits of Canada's continental shelf as provided for by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Let me point out that the declaration of the contiguous zone and of an exclusive economic zone is in full agreement with international practice. The limitation of Canada's maritime zones also outlines the area over which Canada will now apply its new oceans management strategy.

In accordance with the government's efforts to consolidate key ocean legislation under the umbrella of the oceans act, provisions of the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act and the Canadian Laws Offshore Applications Act are incorporated into the this bill. This legislation further emphasizes Canada's rights with respect to the continental shelf. Canada has rights to living organisms belonging to sedentary species on or in the shelf and jurisdiction over the exploration and the exploitation of minerals and non-living resources of the seabed and of the subsoil.

The declaration of Canadian jurisdiction over the territorial sea and the contiguous zone and the exclusive zone is crucial. Most Canadians may not know these technical terms, but many Canadians will have heard the phrases 12-mile zone and 200-mile zone. Canada's territorial sea extends from the coastline out 12 nautical miles. In the territorial sea Canada has full jurisdiction to ocean waters, to the seabed beneath these waters and the space above.

The contiguous zone will extend an additional 12 nautical miles from the outer edge of the territorial sea. In this zone Canada will have the power to enforce our criminal, fiscal, immigration, sanitary and customs laws.

The exclusive economic zones will encompass all of the ocean area out to 200 nautical miles from the coastal baseline. In this zone Canada will have jurisdiction for exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the living and non-living resources of the waters, seabed and subsoil. Canada's jurisdiction in this zone will cover marine scientific research, protection and preservation of the marine environment and artificial islands, installations and structures.

Through this legislation Canada will establish major new rights over the ocean. In the councils of the world Canadians pushed hard to establish these rights. These new zones grant Canada powers that go well beyond the powers our country asserted in the past. The bill will put in place a clear definition of jurisdiction that is fully supported by global agreement.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans expressed this clearly on Tuesday in the House when he stated: "The world backs Canada's jurisdiction over Canadian waters".

This brings me to Part II, oceans management strategy. This part commits us to the development of a new method by which we shall manage the oceans and their resources. It identifies the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the federal authority responsible for the co-ordination and facilitation of the development and implementation with stakeholders of an oceans management strategy. It provides the minister with the necessary statutory authority to do so. This part also authorizes the minister to create marine protected areas for the protection of the fishery resource.

Let me review the goals of the strategy outlined in the legislation. One goal is to integrate planning and management of activities within and among jurisdictions. Another is to reduce regulatory duplication and conflict. Still another is to increase the effectiveness of environmental protection measures and to replace the

existing sectoral approach to resource management in favour of a more comprehensive ecosystem-based approach.

The act thus provides the building blocks for integrated management and sustainable development of Canada's ocean resources. It outlines a new ecosystems approach to marine resource management. It provides a common focus for federal responsibilities and consolidates federal programs. It gives Canadians legislative tools with which to begin working on ocean management holistically, rather than sectorally.

We have long known the need for sustainable development of resources. This need was clearly put forward in the report of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development, better known as the Bruntland report after its chairman, Gro Harlem Bruntland, now Prime Minister of Norway.

Here is how the commission defined sustainable development: "Activity in which the environment is fully incorporated into the economic decision-making process as a forethought, not an afterthought". The report called for: "Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs". The government is acting on the commission's call.

Last year the National Advisory Board of Science and Technology called for an oceans act to address the needs of ocean frontier development for the present and the future. The advisory board called for Canada to develop a proactive oceans policy that plans for the future, rather than just responds to crisis.

In November 1994, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans released a document setting out the potential elements of an ocean management vision for Canada. The government sought the advice of Canadians across the country. Certain themes recurred in that advice. The federal government has a leadership role to play in oceans policy. There should be one federal department taking the lead in developing a new strategy. People want to be involved locally in developing solutions to regional priorities. There is a need to sustain resources and to diversify.

Such was the advice we received. It came from provinces, municipalities, coastal residents, fishermen, business, labour, environmentalists and scientists. The bill before us sets out the elements of an oceans policy. But all Canadians must be involved in developing specific mechanisms, planning and management structures, as well as the guidelines and standards needed to bring about sustainable use of oceans and their resources.

The oceans management strategy envisaged by this legislation is broad in scope and flexible in implementation. It recognizes the consensus building that is needed for a cohesive and coherent oceans policy for our country.

Again, let me quote the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from his address to the House on Tuesday: "The bill identifies federal leadership and commitment to a comprehensive approach to oceans management. The bill seeks to address regulatory duplication, conflict and inadequacies that result in inefficiencies, failure to protect the environment and impediments to development and this bill is founded on the principle that long term solutions require long term co-operation".

The oceans act will give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Government of Canada, legal authority to draw together all of Canada's ocean stakeholders, to develop a strategy based on the sustainable development and integrated management of activities and resources in estuarine, coastal and marine waters.

The act provides the authority to develop the actual mechanisms to implement the new strategy. It gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the ability to enter into new partnership agreements in order to ensure that the ocean management strategy meets regional needs and fulfils regional aspirations.

Part III deals with the powers, duties and functions of the minister. This part provides for consolidation and clarification of federal responsibilities for managing Canada's oceans. It reflects the enhanced mandate of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and it provides statutory authority for Canadian Coast Guard functions transferred to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Those functions include provision of services for the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships in Canadian waters; the marine component of the federal search and rescue program; pleasure craft safety and marine pollution prevention and response, as well as ships, aircraft and other marine services in support of other federal programs, boards and agencies.

Oceans related provisions previously contained in other legislation have been incorporated into this section of the act. Most notable is the authority of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to conduct hydrographic, oceanographic and marine scientific surveys, to conduct research and to publish various products.

As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans observed at the last debate on the oceans act, with this legislation we are coming to the successful conclusion of a long and dramatic chapter in Canada's maritime history. With this legislation we are coming to the beginning of a new and even more vital chapter in that history.

The Canada oceans act will give our country and exclusive economic zone covering almost 5 million square kilometres of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. With the passage of this act

Canada will effectively increase by one-half as our jurisdiction will encompass both the land mass and the oceans.

As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said, the Canada oceans act does expand our notion of Canada as a country. The oceans management strategy increases the priority we place as a society on wise development of our waters. It signals that Canada and Canadians are prepared to act in making the most of our ocean assets, opportunities and obligations.

The fisheries and oceans minister has aptly described the Canada oceans act as the last step forward toward formal jurisdiction over Canada's ocean territory. However, the act is also the first step toward recognizing the extraordinary importance and potential of this vast territory.

In legislative terms the bill establishes jurisdiction over Canada's ocean area and ocean resources. It establishes the primary rules and provides the tools to help support Canada's new oceans management regime. It consolidates and clarifies federal responsibilities for managing Canada's oceans.

In real life terms the bill marks a transition in Canadians' relationship with our oceans. It marks an acceptance of reciprocal obligation; as the oceans benefit us, so we are agreeing to act to benefit the oceans.

The oceans act signals a renewal of Canada's leadership in oceans management. With this act we are asserting Canada's role as a world leader. Sustainable development is a goal to which all nations must be committed, not only of the fisheries resource but of all ocean resources.

There may be seven seas but there is only one ocean. The oceans make up one single global organism connected by great currents flowing from hemisphere to hemisphere. Oceans play a vital role in regulating our climate. Oceans also play a key role in the water cycle, the chemistry of the atmosphere and the making of climate and weather. Oceans also supply us not only with food but also energy, minerals and medicines.

With the oceans act Canada will be in an even stronger position to show the world the way of conserving ocean resources. As the member for the Cape Breton Highlands-Canso, a constituency which depends greatly on the oceans near its coasts, be it for fishing or as a vital link in eastern Canada for ocean protection, for conservation and for environmental response through the Strait of Canso, I am very pleased to greet this Canada oceans act and the co-ordination and consolidation that it represents in Canada's oceans policy.

I am pleased also to support the government in bringing this legislation forward as well as the initiatives which will flow from this initiative in expanding Canada's sense of responsibility over the oceans and also in continuing the leadership which our Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has demonstrated to the great pride of all Canadians in taking the lead in the world in managing our ocean environment.

Old Age Security Act June 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin third reading debate on Bill C-54, an act to amend the Old Age Security Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Children's Allowance Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act.

I am pleased to do so for two reasons. First, as chair of the House of Commons committee on human resources development I had the opportunity to review the legislation in detail when it went through clause by clause consideration. I want to thank the members of that committee on all sides of the House for their careful work in examining the provisions of this sometimes complex and very technical bill.

Second, I thank the officials of the human resources development department, the income security programs division, for their patience in explaining the complex, technical aspects of these programs.

Particularly I thank those groups who came on short notice and made representations to the committee on behalf of seniors and Canadians with disabilities who are most affected by this legislation. I especially to thank the Council of Canadians with disabilities and the one voice, the Canadian Seniors Network, for their valuable contribution to the work of the committee studying Bill C-54.

Second, I am pleased to speak to the legislation as a regular member of Parliament for whom sorting out difficulties with the various components of the Canada pension system is an important part of my regular constituency work.

By and large these difficulties are of two types. First of all, it is financial, questions about the adequacy and the timeliness of benefits, conditions for entitlement, sudden or unexplained

changes to the level of benefits and other matters of that sort that bother the seniors or those who are dependent on this stream of income for their income security.

The second category of difficulties with elements of the Canadian pension system that members of Parliament are frequently called on to deal with are administrative in nature: the mechanisms for applying for benefits, rules pertaining to the delegation, the splitting or the reassignment of pension benefits or credits, appeals dealing with errors and overpayments sometimes which are caused by the bureaucracy, and finally, matters of security and confidentiality.

It is primarily this latter set of concerns that are addressed by Bill C-54. The bill improves services to clients. It allows for improved co-ordination and more efficient program administration and service delivery. It increases the consistency between the old age security and Canada pension plan programs. It also reduces administrative costs. It minimizes duplication and paper burden to clients and various departments, and it will also help members of Parliament to better assist their constituents.

According to estimates by the Department of Human Resources Development, the proposed amendments to Bill C-54 would benefit about 1.4 million senior citizens with no net cost to the taxpayer. Expected savings from the amendments will total approximately $10 million annually, largely as a result of more efficient program administration.

I would like to go through in the time that is available some of the aspects of this legislation for the House this evening. For nearly 1.4 million seniors, many of whom are women, at present they must reapply annually to receive the guaranteed income supplement and spouse's allowance benefits. At that time they must make a statement of income even though the income of many does not change significantly from year to year, being limited to old age security and perhaps Canada pension plan benefits.

Payments for the new fiscal year cannot be made until the application is received and approved. As a result, each April up to 100,000 low and middle income pensioners may suffer hardship when benefits are delayed due to late application or a need to verify the information on the application.

This legislation allows the Minister of Human Resources Development to waive the requirement for annual renewal applications for GIS and SPA benefits for any month or months in the following year. The proposed sections of the bill would require the minister in situations where he or she had waived the requirement for an application to give written notice to the pensioner when a subsequent application was required.

The minister would have to meet certain time limits in this regard. These changes would avoid an interruption in benefits for those pensioners and would improve service and administration. There might also be implications for benefit overpayments and underpayments.

Generally what this legislation does is eliminate the need for inconvenient and costly reapplication when that is not necessary because for the most part the information is already in the possession of the department.

The second category has to do with reconsiderations and appeals. Clause 16 of the legislation allows a person to satisfy, with a decision or a determination relating to the payment or the amount of the benefit, to make a request to the minister within certain time limits for reconsideration of the decision, after which the minister could confirm or vary it.

A person dissatisfied with the minister's decision could appeal it to the Canada pension plan, old age security review tribunal established under the Canada pension plan. Where the basis of the appeal was an incorrect ministerial decision about the income of the applicant, the beneficiary or spouse of either of these, the appeal can be referred to the Tax Court of Canada. This legislation thereby facilitates portions of the appeal process.

Another category is retroactive payments. Clients often apply for OAS-CPP retirement benefits at the same time. If application is made after age 65 retroactive old age security benefit payments are made but the Canada pension plan provides for an actuarial increase in the value of the benefit. The result is that benefits that begin to be paid after age 65 are treated differently by the two programs.

With clause 3 of the bill, the section on the Old Age Security Act, section 2(a), periods of retroactive payments to the two programs would be harmonized. The period would be set at a maximum of one year, a reduction from the present maximum of five years in the case of old age security benefits. In the case of retroactive payments a streamlining takes place as a result of the bill.

In this area the council on disabilities made an important contribution to the legislation which I acknowledge. In this case the council led the standing committee to adopt an amendment to the bill which provides for retroactive, early retirement benefits for some recipients of CPP disability benefits. The provision is intended to mitigate to some extent the loss of income for a person no longer eligible for a disability benefit and to assist that person to reduce the amount of overpayment which must be returned to the program. This provision was always intended to be optional for the client.

The government never intended to reduce the options available to clients but the council pointed out the wording of this provision in Bill C-54 would be construed as requiring the client to take the early retirement pension.

To address the concern raised by the council, the government moved an amendment accepted in the standing committee. The government listened to the concerns expressed by the council and these concerns are now reflected in the revised wording of this provision of Bill C-54.

There were numerous other areas in which amendments were made to the bill in response to the input by these groups representing Canadians with disabilities and seniors affected by this legislation.

The bill, which streamlines in many ways the administration of this legislation, is vital to seniors and to those people dependent on these programs because of the complexity this legislation by necessity has to be designed to accommodate in so many different circumstances. Seniors, many of whom live in isolated communities, cannot afford to have their payments disrupted by administrative processes very often far beyond their understanding.

By working to simplify the legislation and streamline the process for applying, for reconsidering, for splitting, for delegating benefits that apply to seniors and to persons with disabilities through the Canadian pension system, we are helping Canadians facilitate access to this very important aspect of the Canadian safety net.

That is the nature of the changes in Bill C-54. They reflect the government's concern for making this vital component of the Canadian social security system accessible to those who depend on it for their livelihood, for their basic fundamental income security and in that respect enabling seniors in Canada to have a greater assurance and confidence that as they move into their old age they will be able to count on secure and regular support from the Canadian government.

Fisheries June 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The recent agreement reached between Canada and the European Union to conserve and protect Atlantic fish stocks was the object of a meeting held in Toronto last week by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. Can the minister, who was largely instrumental in developing Canada's position, inform this House of the outcome of those meetings and of the support expressed by NAFO regarding the crucial Canadian objectives?

Transport June 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this week is national transportation week and an excellent opportunity for me to remark on the importance of marine transportation in my riding.

The Strait of Canso is one of the largest deep water ports in eastern North America. It is ice free and allows year round access to Canadian and international markets. It is an important gateway for the shipping of many products. This natural asset has already proven its economic importance. Several successful businesses operate on its shores, serving the petroleum, forestry, gypsum, and energy sectors, to name only a few.

The Minister of Transport is currently developing a new marine strategy. I would urge him to keep in mind the importance of the Strait of Canso to our transportation network and the bright economic potential it holds for this region.

Atlantic Fishery June 2nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has emerged as one of the real success stories in the Atlantic fishery.

This year it will generate more than $275 million in economic benefits in a few short weeks. Success presents a tough policy challenge for the minister of fisheries, who has to set the rules for managing this resource. He must ensure that (a) the snow crab stock is not overfished; (b) the number allowed to fish this resource can make a reasonable return; and (c) the economic benefits from this common property resource are shared equitably.

Determining how many fishermen can participate in the snow crab fishery and what the size of their individual quotas should be has proven to be among the thorniest aspects of reconciling these policy objectives. This year the minister has adopted a novel and ingenious approach for dealing with this difficult problem. He has allocated a portion of the total allowable catch of snow crab to a number of fishermen's associations and has challenged them to find a way to fish their allocation safely and responsibly and to share the benefits fairly among those who do not have regular snow crab licences.

The fishermen are rising to the challenge. They have formed companies and worked out harvesting and processing strategies to share the benefits of this temporary allocation.